Tuesday, 22 June 2021

ONE of the club’s associate members, retired geography teacher Richard Walker, who lives in Sonning Common, returned to the club on Tuesday evening last week to give his third talk at the periodical “fifth Tuesday” meeting at the Red Lion Hotel.

His subject on this occasion was the Home of Hope children’s mission at Mchinji in Malawi, near the Zambian border, where his wife and he assisted as volunteers recently.

The orphanage was founded in 1992 by the Rev Thomas Chipeta, known universally as “Agogo”, or grandfather.

He himself was orphaned at 14 and, following the death of two of his own children, he and his wife took in their grandchildren to care for and raise.

He started the orphanage to assist other vulnerable and orphaned children to develop to their fullest potential.

Mr Walker gave some statistics about Malawi, formerly known as British Nyasaland.

HIV/Aids is the biggest killer and, of the 16 million or more population, there are 1,200,000 orphans. More than 50 per cent of the population is under 18.

The country ranks 173rd out of 188 in the Human Development Index.

In addition it has had to cope with flooding last year and a drought this year.

The orphanage, which now looks after 550 children, provides shelter, water, food (it has a farm and the employees are paid with the maize they grow), love (with devotions at 5.30am each day) and education (there is a school with pupils of all ages who wear a uniform).

Mr Walker listed developments for which the home is always looking for funds.

These include:

l A solar trough project, enabling hot water to be accessed.

l The macadamia project, which involves planting (in conjunction with the Neno Macadamia Trust) macadamia trees to provide food while improving conservation and reducing deforestation.

l The sanitary pad project, providing hygiene kits and sewing training for the young women.

Mr Walker also explained the culture of the country, where if an individual is given money he or she is obliged to spend it first for the benefit of his or her family.

He emphasised that the aim was “trade not aid” and pointed out that, for example, a water treadle pump (for the solar trough project) costs £80.

Will Busher proposed the vote of thanks.

Earlier, Maurice Robins reported that the club’s charity bingo evening at Henley town hall last month had raised £1,300.

He thanked all those businesses and individuals who had donated prizes and those Rotarians who had assisted on the night.

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